Marriage adds stability, rights to all families

In his column "A civil solution to the question of gay marriage" (Opinion * Commentary, June 12), Leonard Pitts Jr. says, "Sometimes the words get in the way." But I believe that by denying the word "marriage" to gays and lesbians, you force them into second-class citizenship.

My husband and I have been married 46 years, and I wonder if we'd get the same respect if it was called a "civil union"?

We certainly would not have the more than 1,000 legal benefits, including tax advantages, that we currently enjoy. Nor would our "union" be recognized by other states.

Not using the words "civil marriage" denies a legal foundation to gay and lesbian couples.

Marriage fosters responsibility in our society. It strengthens the family unit.

A good, solid marriage is not eroded by gays and lesbians using the word "marriage."

My marriage would certainly not be destroyed or even weakened by it. And after one year of celebrating gay marriage in Massachusetts, gays and lesbians have not caused mass divorces, nor have children been taken from the arms of their parents.

Our society should be encouraging strong, stable relationships among straight and gay couples. Our children deserve no less.

Colette Roberts


The writer is chairwoman of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Howard County.

'Civil unions' fall short of equality

I applaud Leonard Pitts Jr. for highlighting the critical distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage. But what gays want and deserve is civil marriage equality ("A civil solution to the question of gay marriage," Opinion * Commentary, June 12).

Civil marriage conveys more than 1,000 rights, privileges and responsibilities. Religious marriage conveys God's blessing and grace.

What Mr. Pitts fails to make clear in suggesting his civil union solution, is that current "civil unions" (such as those in Vermont and Connecticut) are state-specific institutions. They are not transferable between states and do not bring with them the vast collection of federal rights and benefits granted by the word "marriage."

As such, the state-based civil unions fall well short of equality.

Gays deserve access to civil marriage, and churches must be able to grant or deny religious marriage to whomever they deem fit.

Dan McCarthy


Appeal to dealers makes little sense

I was so astonished by Dan Rodricks' column "Dealers, deal if you must - but please, stop the killing" (June 9) that I had to read it twice. Was it a poor joke or was it serious?

Is Mr. Rodricks living in the Land of Oz to even suggest that the drug dealers should stop killing each other while they continue their nefarious business of specializing in the destruction of human lives?

He even goes so far as to say that if the killings stop, he would almost guarantee that the "cops are going to leave you alone." I bet this went over really well with the police who risk their lives to stop the narcotics trade.

To even print this column is one more example of why The Sun is losing the fine reputation that it once enjoyed.

James M. Panopoulos


Renewing Patriot Act threatens our liberty

I noted with real alarm President Bush's efforts to expand the powers of the Patriot Act to allow FBI agents "unprecedented access to a variety of personal records without having to get a judge's approval" ("In Ohio, Bush urges making the Patriot Act permanent," June 10).

It is equally alarming to me that this proposed expansion of Patriot Act powers cleared the Senate Intelligence Committee in an 11-4 vote.

One need not be a lawyer to recognize the threat to the separation of powers this bill poses.

Passage of this law would be a betrayal of the bedrock principles of our country.

It would also threaten the civil liberties of all U.S. citizens.

John B. Ramsay III


Invest in areas hurt by the base closings

I agree with the plan to consolidate military bases, as this will reduce government waste of tax dollars. However, the closings could have a devastating effect on the people of the affected communities, and this would not benefit anyone.

Could the government return half of the savings to the affected communities by investing in new or existing businesses in those communities that would provide the most beneficial of goods and services?

Clifford Greenblatt

Owings Mills

Needs of bus riders should take priority

In The Sun, June 9, on Page One: "For riders, bus route overhaul is painful."

The result: Many poor and African-American bus riders will lose their jobs because they cannot afford to own a car or pay for alternative transportation.

On Page 9A: "Methane in atmosphere of Titan might be traced to volcanoes of ice" (June 9).

Read: We American taxpayers have spent scores of millions of dollars on spacecraft so that a few curious scientists can speculate about the composition of the atmosphere of one of Saturn's moons.

My thought for the day: As a culture, perhaps we should revisit our funding priorities.

Perhaps the welfare and comfort of thousands of poor working people should be considered more important than the curiosity of a few overpaid Ph.D's doing meaningless jobs.

Perhaps a vast majority of Americans don't really care about ice volcanoes on Titan, but do care about our working brothers and sisters.

Kirk S. Nevin

White Hall

Ban on marijuana adds to suffering

Clarence Page's column "Supreme Court overreaches with medical marijuana ruling" (Opinion * Commentary, June 10) decries the hypocrisy of the high court in advocating for states' rights in some cases and not others, including those involving the medicinal use of cannabis.

Imagine hospitals and doctors' offices being told back in the late 1920s that they were prohibited from using alcohol to sterilize wounds because it could be processed and sold on the black market as a drink.

One day, today's bans on medical marijuana will be viewed the same way. But not until it is cultivated by the pharmaceutical industrial complex and administered in a hospital only to those citizens fortunate enough to have medical insurance, who will be gouged on its cost.

In the meantime, patients with AIDS, cancer and glaucoma will have to suffer in silence as we export imaginary freedom around the world at the point of a gun.

Ben Cohen

Owings Mills

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